FURRY VENGEANCE. Starring Brendan Fraser, Ricky Garcia, Eugene Cordero and Brooke Shields. Directed by Roger Kumble. Rated PG. 92 mins.
Yes, that's what it says. The furry creatures on the warpath are those furry critters from the woods, raccoons, squirrels, skunks... even some turkeys (which offers some bad suggestions to antipathetic reviewers of the film) who resent the developers coming in to destroy their habitats. Fair enough. But is furry vengeance enough?
The initial credits have some cartoon drawings. Soon into the film, which we realise is a live action cartoon, it becomes clear that it might have been funnier and more effective as an entire cartoon given how well animation films work these days. The trouble is that humans acting like cartoon characters can seem too stupid (a word that appears in the dialogue early in the film to describe some human behaviour). Much easier to accept cartoons with human voices than humans aping cartoons. Not that Brendan Fraser who stars and is executive producer and really liked this film is unfamiliar with live action cartoon characters (think George of the Jungle Encino Man, Dudley Do Right or Looney Tunes). But, he is getting a bit old and a bit heavy to do this kind of thing convincingly.
Actually, the live animals (and CG and animatronic animals) communicate via images in cartoon bubbles and with sly and snide expressions. They come off better than most of the humans.
The story is the old one. Greedy real estate entrepreneurs (who pay lip-service only to environmental concerns) want to destroy the forest to build suburbia. Ken Jeong has shown he can do cartoonish characters (Role Models, The Hangover) and gets away with being an idiotic businessman with some silly schtick. Brendan Fraser wants to further his career and is a desperate yes man for the boss. He is the main target of furry vengeance schemes (and skunks seem particularly love to deliver all over him) but, of course, has to come to his senses after being pounded out of them for almost 90 minutes and be the animal's saviour.
Who is the target audience? Younger kids who might like the slapstick and physical humour. And any (very) undiscriminating adults. (Older audiences who haven't seen Brooke Shields for a while will become conscious of their own age as they see her at almost 45, rather tougher looking than she used to, but a good sport for being her as Brendan Fraser's long-suffering wife.)
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out June 24